Thanks to Chris Griffin with 1450 KMMS-AM in Bozeman, I had a very interesting discussion with Courtney Kramer and Jon Axline on the 50th Anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination. We talked about the Atomic Era’s impacts here in Montana, the underground bunkers in and around Bozeman, and of course the “Ace in the Hole” Minuteman Missile project that got its start here in Montana.
Click here to listen to the segment with Kramer, Historic Preservation Officer for the City of Bozeman, and Axline, the historian for the Montana Dept of Transportation.
Here’s a little background on the “Ace in the Hole:”
In the presidential election of 1960, Democratic candidate John F. Kennedy won the election against Richard Nixon in part because of the perceived “missile gap” and its devastating consequences. Though the “missile gap” would eventually be proven false, public perception and political pressure resulted in accelerating the schedule for the Minuteman project. The Minuteman had been set for operational use by 1963, but a monumental effort by the Air Force and its contracting partners resulted in the first missile field activated on October 24th, 1962, at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana.
The first Minuteman missiles went on high alert–awaiting a possible warfare situation–at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, a crisis brought about by the Soviet attempt to deploy missiles in Cuba. Cuba had been an ally of the United States for decades, but in the late 1950s a revolution led to a communist government taking control of the country. Americans could feel communism literally knocking at the nation’s back door. Cuba was less then 100 miles from the southern mainland of the United States. This could have resulted in strikes against the southern United States with only perhaps a minute of warning.
The United States continued to fear for its security, but realized that the Minuteman weapons system had been a valuable asset during the crisis. President Kennedy referred to it as his “Ace in the Hole.”
On this 50th Anniversary of JFK’s assassination, it appears President Kennedy’s “Ace in the Hole” may be in jeopardy. The Western Word shares this:
The Washington Free Beacon reported yesterday “The Obama administration has drafted a plan to shutter an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) squadron three years after it assured hesitant lawmakers that the New START U.S.-Russia arms reduction treaty would not lead to deep cuts in the ICBM force.”
Under the plan, they would also destroy the silos.
Back in December 2010, I wrote, “The [New Start] Treaty needs more debate and there are several questions that need answered.” Montana Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester voted for the Start Treaty.
For those not familiar (most Montana reporters), a missile squadron is 50 missiles. There are 150 missiles each at Malmstrom, F.E. Warren, and Minot Air Force bases.